Mosquitos are a nuisance in summer. And there's no way getting around them. No matter how much I try to protect myself, they find me. Sometimes when my kids are done playing outdoors, the number of bites on their legs is painful to see.
The common repellents on the market contain an extremely harmful chemical called DEET. This chemical, banned in many other places including Europe, has been shown to cause cancer and harm brain and nervous system function. Children are particularly at risk for subtle neurological changes because their skin more readily absorbs chemicals in the environment, and chemicals exert more potent effects on their developing nervous systems. (Google "dangers of DEET" and you'll find plenty of reading material.)
You can make an effective and safe bug repellent right at home very easily:
Homemade Natural Insect Repellent
2 tablespoons of either witch hazel or vodka
2 tablespoons of any oil such as almond oil, olive oil, or neem oil (which contains natural insecticidal compounds)
1 teaspoon lemon eucalyptus essential oil (reported by the CDC to be a good natural substitution for DEET in repelling insects; not recommended for use on children under 3 yrs.)
Add all ingredients to spray bottle and shake well before using. Keep the spray in your purse and use abundantly when outside, especially during dusk.
You can buy the essential oil on Amazon or, if you'd rather buy a ready-made repellent, check out this one. I have not tried it myself as I make my own bug spray, but the reviews are good.
With natural repellents, you can spray generously on skin without fear (avoid eyes). But if you do choose to use a store-bought repellent, it will most likely contain DEET unless it specifically says 'DEET-free'. If you use a DEET-containing product, please try to spray on clothes, not on skin, especially on children. Use it outside. Do NOT spray it inside your home or you'll continue to breathe in the chemicals. DEET is not the only harmful chemical in bug sprays.
Since so many people now know the dangers of DEET, there are plenty of natural products available. I used to purchase ones with citronelle, lavendar, cedar, etc. but none were as effective as the lemon eucalyptus based sprays. In fact, I found it more effective than 'OFF' sprays. Try it out and let me know what you think!
I hope everyone is enjoying their summer! Wishing you warm, sunny days and beautiful summer nights...without the bites!
Peace and blessings!